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Press Release

Connecticut Man Convicted of Drug Trafficking

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. – A Connecticut man was convicted by a federal jury of heroin trafficking, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Following an eight-day trial before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court, Luis Payano-Perez, 38, of Connecticut, was convicted on Oct. 20, 2022 of one count of possessing with intent to distribute 100 or more grams of heroin.

According to documents in this case and evidence at trial:

In November 2018, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) confidential informant provided information to HSI that Payano-Perez was prepared to sell the source a large volume of heroin on Nov. 8, 2018, in the parking lot of a Wawa convenience store in Tuckerton, New Jersey. Payano-Perez and the confidential informant arranged for the quantity of the heroin to be sold, as well as the date, time and location of the planned transaction.

On Nov. 8, 2018, Payano-Perez met with two confidential government informants at the Wawa parking lot to sell them approximately one kilogram of heroin. Shortly after the parties interacted by Payano-Perez’s vehicle, law enforcement officers converged on the Wawa parking lot and arrested Payano-Perez. A subsequent search of Payano-Perez’s vehicle uncovered a bag containing nearly one kilogram of heroin.

The narcotics trafficking charge carries a mandatory penalty of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and up to a $5 million fine.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of HSI, Atlantic City office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel; the Little Egg Harbor Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Hawkins, and the New Jersey State Police, Atlantic City Metro Task Force, under the direction of Col. Patrick Callahan, with the investigation leading to the guilty verdict.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric A. Boden and Eric Suggs of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

Updated October 25, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 22-397